When someone outside of our trade asks what we do as a company, it’s always somewhat difficult to fully convey. My typical response is “We make the things that make things”. But, if you have never been in an industrial environment there is no point for reference. So my ego likes to interject “big things”.
And… we keep the machines we build running. Then always the question. “So you’re like a mechanic”? Yes exactly, but we build the car too!
Our machine erection team clearly ,and quite proudly, refer to themselves as millwrights. These guys at the upper levels can really do it all. A solid “millwright” can rig anything, and has some experience moving real weight. They will also be fluent in the language and execution of precision. You will never hear a true millwright say ,”I am just a _______” These guys will tackle anything.
A great rigger, might not be a great millwright. There is an art in knowing how to hook and move components. However, a complex machine assembly is more than the lift plan. If that machine is part of a machine line, a “pick and place” contractor will struggle keeping the site in tolerance. If you don’t know what to look for you may not find the issues until it is too late.
We have recently picked up a fair amount of tech school grads with industrial mechanic certificates. They have been introduced to anything from welding to electrical troubleshooting. These guys have chosen this as a trade. When many of us, if we have to be honest, ended up in it. We have had great luck continuing the education of these team members. Though their career began as an “industrial mechanic” its the goal of most to be accepted into the ranks of the salty millwrights.
A millwright crew is a true team. The hazards of our trade are clear. One missed step can jeopardize the whole crew. Knowing what skill sets come with the classifications can be an important step to building safer teams and more efficient teams. There is no substitute for experience. If your seasoned veterans can become teachers, we can enjoy our trade for generations to come. One thing is for certain. Millwrights are made in the field.